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Unusual snowfall causes blackouts in Santiago, Chile

By Andrew V. Pestano
Unusual snowfall causes blackouts in Santiago, Chile
Vehicles on a street in Chile's capital of Santiago were covered in snow on Saturday due to a rare snowfall. Photo by Elvis Gonzalez/EPA

July 16 (UPI) -- Chilean emergency officials said about 250,000 people lost power in the capital of Santiago following a rare snowfall, which also created conditions for car crashes.

Chile's Ministry of Interior and Public Safety on Saturday said one person died while trying to clear ice, while two others were injured by a power line that fell. Most blackouts were caused by trees falling onto power cables due to the weight of the snow.

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Local meteorologists said it is the heaviest snowfall in Santiago since 2007, El Mercurio reported.

"It is true: In Santiago it is snowing. Take the necessary safeguards -- remember that the streets and sidewalks have less grip," Chile's national police force, called the Carabineros de Chile, said in a statement.

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Chile's National Emergency Citizen Corporation Network warned Santiago residents about driving in the snowy conditions.

"Caution in driving. Santiago is not ready for snow driving. If you can, avoid leaving -- do it, and don't risk yourself," the agency said in a statement.

As the snow began falling on Friday, Chile's government said it is working to address the effects of climate change.

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"Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We have witnessed the ways in which this phenomenon threatens the well-being and development of the planet: unpredictable weather patterns, rising sea levels, flood risks and unexpected floods are just a few of its effects reaching an unprecedented scale each year," the Chilean government said in a statement.

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